In the Washington Watch article in the February issue of BioScience, Noreen Parks reports on the effects of global warming on oceans.

An excerpt from the article follows:

As the effects of global warming appear more ominous, and the world community makes minimal progress in curbing fossil-fuel emissions, geoengineering schemes for climate mitigation are taking on new allure. One proposal, “fertilizing” ocean waters with micronutrients such as iron or nitrogen to stimulate the growth of carbon dioxide–guzzling plankton, is spurring commercial projects targeted on the global carbon-credits market. Fearing that ill-conceived commercialization could drive development of this strategy before its impacts and feasibility are adequately evaluated, scientists, policymakers, and environmental groups are calling for clear policy guidelines to regulate ocean fertilization.

The dozen experimental releases of iron in relatively small areas of open ocean between 1993 and 2005 produced mixed results—measuring the effects of iron seeding in moving water proved especially difficult. Kenneth Coale, director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and chief scientist on all US-led iron expeditions, explained that these efforts were designed to address questions about past climate. “None assessed the ecological consequences of much larger-scale or frequent fertilization efforts for climate mitigation,” he said.

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